In my time I’ve seen a lot of awful designers CV’s so here are some pointers: you don’t have to agree with everything, but hopefully this will help as the problem with forums is anyone can give advice, but it doesn’t mean it’s good advice!
This is student advice and advice for designers who have a few years experience, you donâ€™t say which one you are, so will have to pick and choose to suit.
The CV is a resume of your career and experience. A resume is a summary of your experience. For the purposes of employment they are the same thing depending on the country youâ€™re in.
The covering letter/email, should be enticing enough to get the employer to look at your CV, the CV should be enticing enough to get invited for interview and then your portfolio and personality will hopefully get you the job.
Always consider the person/employer who is viewing your CV. The same applies for any design, you wouldnâ€™t design a handle that was uncomfortable to hold, so don’t make a confusing CV thatâ€™s difficult to read etc.
If youâ€™re an industrial/product designer, show images in your CV, but remember a CV is not a portfolio. Employers are looking at your CV to see what youâ€™ve done and that you can do what you say you can do. Designers are very visual people and pictures paint 1000 words, so include them (unless they do you a disservice), but importantly, label each image so that the employer knows what theyâ€™re looking at (even if you think its obvious), because youâ€™re not going to be there to explain it to them.
Make the images interesting and clear (ie, not pixelated, poorly printed)
Donâ€™t show all the images you have in your portfolio in your CV, thatâ€™s what the portfolioâ€™s for, just choose a few (3-5) powerful images, preferably not the same ones that appear in your portfolio. Thereâ€™s nothing worse than having a candidate turn up for interview to look through their portfolio to find youâ€™ve seen it all before in their CV. Itâ€™s boring and the candidate has nothing left to say.
Look at the images, If they donâ€™t work (are misleading, not descriptive etc), leave them off.
A good balance of images is also important, if you have it, try to show evidence of sketching ability (the forgotten but very important art) model making, CAD skills, manufacturing drawings and finished designs. This is also very important in your portfolio, because youâ€™re telling a story. Make these images interesting, bright, a montage etc.
Itâ€™s personal taste, but I put the images on a separate sheet to my written experience, this is because I can choose to leave them out, depending on who Iâ€™m sending my CV to, or I have three different pages of images and I just attach the one most relevant to the job to the rest of my CV. CVâ€™s with the images behind the text, can make the text difficult to read (or the images difficult to see) and get in the way of the communication.
Donâ€™t show images of group student projects â€“ only show individual work or work where your input is clear. What happens when students leave University is they all send their CVâ€™s to the same agencies who then look through all the CVâ€™s to find several candidates stating that theyâ€™ve been the main lead on the same project and theyâ€™ve all used the same pictures. It looks terrible and confuses the employer.
Always list the most relevant/important things first. Whatâ€™s the point in starting your CV with info on your education, when youâ€™ve been employed as a designer for 2 years. In a busy office, people donâ€™t have time to search a CV for relevant info, so make it easy to access â€“ most relevant info at the top (under a clear heading), bullet points are best and clean and clear fonts!
Label each page with name etc, if the CV is sent by post or emailed and printed out, the CV will get passed around and jumbled up and pages that are not labelled can get easily lost.
Gimmicks generally get in the way â€“ Iâ€™ve seen Cvâ€™s that have been delivered in shoes with the covering letter saying â€“ â€˜now that Iâ€™ve got a foot in the doorâ€™ (ha ha)â€¦… In my early days I even made a pop up one, because I was afraid I didnâ€™t have enough experience and wanted to show my creativity. If you donâ€™t have the experience, set yourself design challenges or do the 1hour challenges on core77 to bulk out your portfolio. Show the employer youâ€™re keen and talented.
Importantly, don’t just send your CV and wait because you think its good enough to get an automatic invite, follow it up. Check its reached the right person etc (make sure you find out who the right person is before you send it).
Yeah it sounds obvious when its written down, but you wouldn’t believe how many designers get it wrong. Good luck. PT